Spinal cord injuries, or SCI, often occur because of a fall or as the result of a vehicle crash.
You can add car-bicycle accidents into the mix, especially if the motorist strikes the rider from behind. What happens with SCI and what kind of recovery can a cyclist expect?
Importance of the spinal cord
The spinal cord is composed of nerves that carry impulses from the brain to other parts of the body. It is vulnerable to injury, and, if damaged, cannot repair itself. The severity of a spinal cord injury depends on the location of the damage. For example, if a vehicle strikes a cyclist who falls forward off his bike, he may suffer an incomplete SCI and still retain some feeling and function below the site of the injury. Were he to sustain a complete SCI, he would completely lose any feeling below the injury site.
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may not be recognizable immediately, so prompt medical attention is essential after a car-bicycle crash, given the vulnerability of the cyclist. A doctor will use a series of x-rays to confirm SCI and the location of the damage. At this time, there is no cure, but treatment can include medication and prostheses to improve nerve function and prevent further injury.
SCI could result in paralysis of limbs, loss of sensation, muscle spasms, difficulty breathing and possible lack of bladder control. Depending on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord, the patient may need a long-term program of rehabilitation. Meanwhile, a cyclist who is the victim of a vehicle-bicycle crash has the right to expect full and fair compensation to cover current and future medical costs, pain and suffering and more.